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Stucco made from oyster shells praised for benefits to health

KURE, Hiroshima >> A manufacturer in Hiroshima prefecture has developed a stucco made from oyster shells, which typically go unused.

The annual volume of oysters caught and farmed in Hiroshima is about 17,000 tons with shells removed, accounting for about 60% of the total amount processed in Japan. However, shells make up 80% of an oyster’s weight, and they are mostly disposed of as waste.

According to the Environment Ministry, that amounts to about 130,000 tons of shells each year.

Since 2011, Seto Shikkui Honpo, a manufacturer in Kure, has been marketing stucco made from oyster shells.

Yoichi Sato, 64, former president of the company, came up with the idea because his daughter suffered from sick-building syndrome, caused by chemicals in building materials, when she was a child. Around 2008, the company started working with Tsuyoshi Morimura, 79, then a professor at Kindai University’s Faculty of Engineering, to increase the strength of the oyster shell stucco so it could be put to use.

Although the oyster shell product costs more than conventional stucco, it has become popular for its resistance to fire and mold. Today, the company’s annual sales of oyster shell stucco exceed 30,000 tons; it sold 24 tons the first year.

The company now exports the product to China and Taiwan, and is considering sales in the United States this year.

“I want to spread this type of stucco around the world so that all the oyster shells in Japan are used up,” said Sato’s 30-year-old son, Fumihiro, who took over as company president in 2020.

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